Mani Jassal: With Love
Fashion’s newly-ordained patron of fusion-chic, Mani Jassal has fast become a favorite among fashionistas world-wide. Everyone from Diipa Khosla and Laiba Zaid to Hannah Simone and Ashanti have been spotted in the designer’s floor-sweeping frills. Since 2014, the luxury evening wear and bridal brand has successfully dismantled identity barriers by rejecting contemporary conventions in favour of unorthodox and culturally ambiguous silhouettes. Mani Jassal says, “the brand operates as one that belongs neither in one market or the other, but rather in a self-developed niche for women who wish to dress in comfort and modernity, without abandoning their cultural identities.” Lightweight floral chiffon saris, beaded peplum stoles and 70’s inspired bell bottoms are just some of the Indo-Canadian designer’s signatures this season. We had a chat with Mani Jassal about falling in love with her new collection ‘With Love.’
What is the most interesting thing you have seen in fashion this year?
Cardi B’s dress for the Grammy Awards. I thought it was so interesting that she looked like a Venus painting. I loved it.
What can you tell us about your childhood, education and family background?
I was born in India and moved to Canada when I was 5-years-old. My dad was an engineer in India, but when we arrived in Canada, he started to drive a taxi. I grew up watching my mom sew, and would use her left-over fabrics to design clothes for my dolls. When I was 11-years-old I decided I wanted to become a fashion designer. I would carry around a sketch book, endlessly drawing designs. In high school, however, I had a bit of a reality check and thought that maybe fashion was not the ideal career choice. I loved math and science so pursued a career in engineering instead. Believe it or not, I had decided to become an aerospace engineer. It was in grade 12, when I really started to listen to my heart. I thought to myself, my first passion was always fashion, why not apply to the Ryerson School of Fashion? So, I did. Once I received the letter of acceptance, there was no turning back. I was on my way to pursuing my dreams. My parents were supportive then and have been since.
Which one female has been your biggest source of inspiration?
My mother. She moved to Canada and basically started her own business as a home seamstress. She was working and raising two kids at the same time as being a house wife. My mom is one of the hardest working women I know. She is resilient and my pillar.
You launched Mani Jassal in 2014. How would you describe the label?
The Mani Jassal Brand aims to develop a community of women; celebrating the multiple layers of their identity and upbringing. A division between an ethnic and everyday wardrobe is a reality for many women with Mani’s story. This barrier between identities is one that I aim to dismantle with my designs. Mani Jassal pieces display Indian influences that can be worn for multiple occasions that are not culturally specific. Comfort, quality and minimalism are design principles that the brand operates under.
How should one feel when wearing the label?
I design for the rebellious woman. A woman who is not shy to express her strength and choices through design. The use of unorthodox silhouettes sets the brand apart. The Mani Jassal label operates as one that belongs neither in one market or the other, but rather in a self-developed niche for women who wish to dress in comfort and modernity, without abandoning their cultural identities.
What is the biggest lesson that you have learned since your first collection?
No real lesson per say, but more that you should stay true to yourself. Don’t be afraid of putting your all into a collection.
Which celebrity would you love to design for?
Rihanna because she embodies what a Mani Jassal woman is. She is so strong, resilient, and such a smart business woman.
You have developed 8 collections to date, ranging from bridal, evening and ready wear pieces. How has the Mani Jassal brand evolved?
I think I have come into my own as a designer. With my earlier collections, I was still figuring out who I was as a designer, and now I think I know. But every day is a journey. And with every collection I am growing and trying to top my previous collection.
Your latest line ‘With Love’ was unveiled at the Toronto Fashion week a few months back. How exciting was that?
Pretty exciting. It’s been a dream come true to be able to take part in TFW.
What was your inspiration for ‘With Love’?
The inspiration behind the collection is the feeling of falling in love and the song “so into you” by Tamia. I felt that a love letter would be the perfect way to capture all of these emotions. The collection consists of softer colour palettes like creams, blushes and easy floral prints. Even the choice of fabrics is soft and airy.
Can you take us through the design process?
Before starting any collection, I like to have an inspiration first. That inspo can come from anything like architecture, music, or even the fabrics themselves. Then I go fabric window shopping, and then I create sketches. After I finalize my designs, I finalize fabrics. Then we put the pieces into productions and create samples for the photoshoots and shows.
What are your top picks from this line?
My favourite has to be the Palma Dress, trousers and tops. The fabric is light weight and very subtle.
Which trend are you completely over?
Trends always come back, so I can’t say that I am over anything. It’s all about your mood.
What are you currently fascinated by? How does it feed into your work?
Currently I am trying to lay low. I’ve just returned from our launch at Toronto Fashion Week, now, I need a little bit of a breather. This is important because if I don’t do this I feel burnt out and then don’t feel like working.
What advice do you have for young designers?
Stay true to yourself.